Many Worlds Chapter 48
As the battle had gone on, Jules had found it more and more useful to concentrate on defense. Various kinds of monsters had various types of ranged abilities, corrosive bile, spines, and some even pick up and threw rubble that was around. Of course many were much more deadly in melee, but the soldiers were quite capable of killing most or all of those before they could reach them. This was an organized march into a disorganized mess of monsters, so they could proceed in a calm an organized fashion. However, there was only so much cover to take, which meant that those capable of attacking from afar could return at least an attack or two before their inevitable deaths. Thus, protecting against that was more important than adding a few more bullets or lasers to the mix. Jules was glad that none of the monsters had laser attacks, because he couldn’t deflect them. He wasn’t sure if it was impossible to do with telekinesis, or if he was just doing it wrong, but either way he couldn’t yet change the path of a laser.
Because he was focused on deflecting things, Jules had to be relatively near the front of the friendly formations. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to cover much to the sides, since the distance would be that much greater if they were far in front and to the side. That is, about forty percent more distance, but that was significant in what he could do. Isaac was with him, and could protect him from any monsters that made it into melee range, though everyone did their best to prevent that for all of their sakes.
Everyone was glad when they stopped for lunch, just a ration break really. Jules had to say that the military rations here weren’t that bad. They didn’t taste like food, but they didn’t taste like much of anything, and chewed reasonably well, so it wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t good. They had recently come through the walls, or what was left of part of them anyway. The density of monsters was higher here, so they had to move more cautiously, especially since there was also more cover. Thus, when they had found a tactically safe spot to rest, they had taken the opportunity. Jules looked around the city, and was saddened. Artien was in an even worse state than Fesmoilia. That was to be expected, but there were many more toppled buildings. It almost looked intentional, but then Jules saw that occasionally there were already dead monsters in such areas. Thus, he concluded that at least some of the damage was caused by infighting between monsters.
After the ration break was over, the group moved on. In the streets and rubble of the city, scouts became more important. This was because it was easier to run into an ambush. In this capacity, John, a member of Mary’s party, was quite helpful. He could extend his hearing out beyond him, either just increasing his sensitivity, or actively listening as if he were standing somewhere else. This meant he didn’t have to get within sight- or scent range of most monsters to find them. Most monsters had to breathe, even those which were stealthy, so he could hear them as if he were right next to them, which was quite useful. In addition to other scouts, most ambushed were able to be avoided, or at least prepared for. Jules actually had a small role to play in the scouting. Although his ability to sense things required him to be closer, they were still useful for verifying the size or number or enemies around some corners, or hidden in buildings. Jules was glad that his mental abilities had been upgraded so much lately, because otherwise he would have been exhausted already. As it was, the pauses between when he needed to use his abilities were adequate enough for him to continue, though battles still were a heavier toll.
As they neared the center of the city, Jules was relieved to see that many of the larger buildings were still mostly intact. The group of soldiers Jules was with were heading directly for the central keep, with others securing the sides, pushing back or killing monsters to keep a clear passage, then holding position. This was probably not the most tactically efficient way of clearing the city, but it was the most conducive to morale. Once they got to the center of the city with all of the citizens, the proximity to those they were rescuing would inspire the troops, and more importantly the citizens.
Jules saw the central keep from afar, and realized that it had a decent open area around it, and there were no monsters immediately adjacent. At least, no living monsters. There were many corpses, likely the responsibility of the turrets that still seemed to be functioning. Jules thought the gates looked to have been somewhat damaged, however. Above the keep, there was a convenient lack of flying monsters. This was a relatively isolated island, and either any flying monsters that lived on the island had been exterminated long before, or they were relatively easily taken care of.
Eventually, the army made it to the center of the city, though not without more engagements. They approached the central keep, though not without watching warily for any monsters to come out of the streets nearby. They were certainly there, but cautious of the keep, though seemingly determined to break into it. There was much cheering to be had as they approached the keep, though they couldn’t see the citizens inside. The radios and speaker they had confirmed their presence, but there weren’t any windows for them to see out of, and opening the gates wasn’t a good idea.
Since it was now late in the day, the combined army moved to a more fortifiable position in a collection of quite solid buildings, including a hotel. After checking for any monster presence, they set up camp to rest. The next day they would begin to push the monsters out of the city. Hopefully, they would retreat instead of stubbornly fighting. That would make the process much quicker. Otherwise, the entire operation might take days or weeks.